A fully automatic palletising solution handles 500 spray cans per minute per production line at Unilever in Leeds. Unilever is a global leader in the personal hygiene market. The factory in Leeds is the largest of its kind in Europe and has 300 employees, producing popular brands such as Dove, Sure, Axe and Lynx.
With somewhat dated technology, the original palletising solutions proved to limit the possibility of increasing the speed on the production lines. At the same time, it was proving more and more difficult to source spare parts for the plant, due to the supplier no longer being in business and was therefore unable to support the factory. A potential increase in capacity of 50% was required, but impossible with the existing palletisers.
One of Unilever’s preferred suppliers
Gary Parkes, project manager at the factory in Leeds, had positive experience with DAN-Palletiser from a similar palletising project at Nestlé. He was convinced that DAN-Palletiser would be able to deliver palletising equipment that could live up to the demands in terms of quality and capacity. This is where DAN-Palletiser came into the picture and became one of Unilever’s preferred suppliers.
Close cooperation between Unilever and DAN-Palletiser
The palletiser solution was to be implemented in just four weeks, and this was a challenge due to the very limited space that was available. The challenge was met and solved with the aid from vastly improved layouts and the advantages which the MK8/2 palletiser provides with its high inlet.
A close cooperation between Unilever and DAN-Palletiser ensured the installation was on schedule.
The palletising solution is based on two MK8/2 multi-palletisers, which can palletise from four production lines simultaneously. The spray cans arrive from the production lines in shrink-wrapped trays consisting of 6 cans. The trays are transported to the pallets through the packing lines at two different heights, and in differing pallet patterns.
Four different types of products from the production lines arrive at the palletiser, and each palletiser palletises the products on two pallets, where the products are kept separate. The pallets are then placed on a transfer car which moves into position under the loading planes, depending on which product is to be loaded.
There is an option to run different pallet types simultaneously, such as Euro-pallets, blue Euro-pallets and Chep-pallets. The loaded pallets are transported by the roller conveyor tracks through an automated shrink tunnel, and are then ready for distribution.
Palletising of 2000 spray cans each minute, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
The maximum capacity is 500 spray cans per minute per production line. This translates into 2000 spray cans being palletised each minute, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No other palletising solution can handle such a high capacity.
Philip Jagger at Unilever explains that the plant from DAN-Palletiser “is an integrated part of our production facilities. We have a reliable system which requires minimal maintenance, and can run at a very high speed. That means a great deal to our flexibility and functionality.
DAN-Palletiser worked closely with us to develop the final solution, which runs very effectively with other parts of our production as well as our IT systems. This combined, ensures us a high degree of automation and thereby an increased productivity, which benefits us tremendously in a competitive market”.
In addition to the successful installation and cooperation in Leeds, Unilever has now invested in six fully automatic MK3 palletisers from DAN-Palletiser for their margarine factory in Katowice, Poland.